Monday, July 28, 2014

Katherine Vaccaro's Internship, Summer 2014 - Part 5

Hello everyone!

Last week was a busy one. After lots of troubleshooting, we finally got results for our single cell ciliate isolates! 
TA-DA! Ciliate DNA bands in gel 
6 out of 8 cells worked (not including our positive sample) which is fantastic news! I cut the bands out of the gel and saved them in individual tubes. Later, when we have a few more samples, we will be purifying the samples to extract the DNA out of the gel for cloning and transforming. And if all goes according to plan, we will be sending out our samples for sequencing and I will have concrete results telling me the species of each ciliate I picked out!

Identifying our ciliates is especially exciting, since Marie Head and I came across an interesting organism while searching our samples for ciliates:
Mr. Mohawk, Unidentified 
Meet our strange little unknown friend! I’ve been calling him “Mr. Mohawk”. Very scientific, I know. After staring at him through the microscope for several minutes, Marie and I decided he had some tintinnid-like qualities and we grabbed him for DNA amplification. Worth a shot, right? When all was said and done, we had 6 out of 8 ciliate samples work, like I said before. The cool thing is, this guy was one of them. The band he produced was bright and clear (Band on the top right of the image of our successful gel)!

When talking to Dr. Snyder about this little guy, he suggested that perhaps he is an invertebrate pluteus (larvae) that had ingested a ciliate, resulting in ciliate DNA being amplified during PCR, but he agreed that it is entirely possible to have found a previously undiscovered ciliate! Marie and I are in the process of asking around our department to see if anyone has any insight into what this little organism might be. We sure are hoping that he is a ciliate, and we are very curious to see what sequence comes back.

So have I assisted in discovering a new species of tintinnid ciliates, or have I just found a (super cute) invertebrate pluteus who had a ciliate snack before we grabbed him from our water samples? Either way, I was part of a fun little mystery, and I got to play detective while trying to determine our little mohawk friend’s identity! Fingers crossed for a new species :)

Unfortunately, my internship ends in two weeks, so I won’t be able to report back to Deep-C on the results of “The Mystery of Mr. Mohawk”, but I still attend school here at UWF so I can continue to assist Marie and Dr. Snyder even after my time with Deep-C ends.

My time here in the lab has flown by! It seems like only a few weeks ago I was getting ready for our research cruise. Now I am getting ready to say goodbye! I still have 1 more blog post to write before my time is up, so stay tuned for my last glimpse into the world of an intern in Dr. Snyder’s lab at UWF!

Posted By:
Katie Vaccaro, University of West Florida

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